Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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The case involves Marken Leger, a Haitian citizen who has lived in the United States as an asylee since 2000. In 2009, Leger pleaded no contest to a charge of lewd and lascivious battery, in violation of Florida Statute § 800.04(4). In 2013 and 2018, Leger pleaded no contest to two other offenses, both for the possession of marijuana, in violation of Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(b). The government initiated removal proceedings against him in 2019, alleging that his convictions made him removable under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).The immigration judge concluded that Leger was removable, finding that his marijuana possession convictions constituted controlled substance offenses under the INA and that his conviction under Florida Statute § 800.04(4) was an aggravated felony. Leger appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which affirmed the immigration judge’s decision.In the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the court held that Leger's marijuana possession convictions did not constitute controlled substance offenses as defined under federal law, and thus, the BIA erred in determining that Leger was subject to removal on these grounds. The court also held that Leger's conviction under Florida Statute § 800.04(4) did not constitute the sexual abuse of a minor and was not an aggravated felony under the INA. The court vacated the BIA's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Marken Leger v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The case involves a Venezuelan couple, Carlos Cuenca Figueredo and Yauri Rojas, who had a son, C.R. After their separation and divorce, they shared custody of C.R. in Venezuela. However, Rojas took C.R. to the United States without Figueredo's knowledge or permission. Twenty months after Rojas left Venezuela with C.R., Figueredo filed a petition in the Middle District of Florida seeking his son’s return under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.The Middle District of Florida found that C.R. was settled in his new environment in the United States. The court considered factors such as C.R.'s stable residence, school attendance, community participation, and Rojas's employment and financial stability. The court also took into account C.R. and his mother's immigration status, noting that Rojas had been granted authorization to remain and work in the United States while her asylum application was pending. Consequently, the court denied Figueredo's petition for C.R.'s return.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision. The appellate court held that a child's immigration status is one relevant factor in determining whether a child is settled in a new environment. The court found that the district court did not err in finding that C.R. was settled in his new environment and did not abuse its discretion in refusing to order his return to Venezuela. View "Alberto Cuenca Figueredo v. Del Carmen Rojas" on Justia Law

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Jesus Gabriel Navarro Guadarrama, a Mexican citizen, pursued a review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' decision dismissing his appeal for adjustment of status and the subsequent denial of his motion to reconsider. Navarro Guadarrama contended that the Board used an incorrect legal standard in considering his application.Navarro Guadarrama entered the U.S. in 1995 and was later convicted of several crimes. His criminal record led to the initiation of removal proceedings against him. Navarro Guadarrama applied for adjustment of status under 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i), which enables an alien illegally in the U.S. to seek relief from removal if they meet certain requirements. His application was denied by an Immigration Judge (IJ) and the Board due to his criminal record and evidence of bad character.Navarro Guadarrama petitioned the court to review the Board's decision. He argued that the Board used the legal standard from a previous case, Matter of Mendez-Moralez, which applies to aliens requiring waivers, instead of Matter of Arai, which applies to those who don't require waivers.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that it had jurisdiction to consider Navarro Guadarrama’s petitions for review and that the Board did not apply the wrong legal standard. The court found that even if the Board cited the "wrong" case, there was no indication that, in substance, it applied the wrong standard. Therefore, the court denied the petitions for review. View "Guadarrama v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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In this case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Robert Franklyn Lodge, a native and citizen of Jamaica, challenged the constitutionality of a federal law regarding derivative citizenship. Lodge, born out of wedlock and abandoned by his mother, was brought to the United States by his naturalized father. After being convicted of aggravated felonies, the Department of Homeland Security sought to remove Lodge, who argued that he had derived citizenship from his father under a since-repealed statute. The immigration judge ordered Lodge removed to Jamaica, and the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed Lodge’s appeal.Lodge argued that the former statute discriminated against unmarried fathers based on sex and against black children based on race. He asked the court to declare him a citizen, arguing that the statute, if cured of its constitutional defects, would have permitted his father to transmit citizenship to him. However, the court found that Lodge would not have derived citizenship from his father even under a version of the statute cured of its alleged constitutional defects. Consequently, the court denied Lodge's petition for review and deemed his motion to transfer as moot. View "Lodge v. United States Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Robert Franklyn Lodge, a native and citizen of Jamaica, was brought to the United States by his father, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen. After Lodge was convicted of aggravated felonies, the Department of Homeland Security sought to remove him. Lodge argued that he had derived citizenship from his father under a statute that has been repealed. The immigration judge ordered Lodge removed to Jamaica, and the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed his appeal. Lodge argued that the former statute discriminated against unmarried fathers based on sex and against black children based on race, and that he should have been granted citizenship if the statute were free of these constitutional defects. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit dismissed Lodge's petition for review, concluding that he lacked standing to raise these constitutional challenges. The court found that Lodge's injury (removal from the U.S. due to non-citizenship) was not traceable to the sex classification in the statute, because even under a sex-neutral version of the statute, Lodge would not have derived citizenship from his father, because his mother's maternity was established. The court did not address the merits of Lodge's arguments about race and sex discrimination or whether he had third-party standing to assert his father's right to equal protection. Lodge's motion to transfer was denied as moot. View "Lodge v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that Petitioner is removable as an aggravated felon and denied his requests for asylum and withholding of removal. Petitioner petitions for review, arguing that his Massachusetts conviction for armed robbery does not constitute a “theft offense” within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(a)(43)(G) and therefore is not an “aggravated felony” under 8 U.S.C. Section 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii).   The Eleventh Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition in part and granted in part. The court rejected Petitioner’s argument that armed robbery does not constitute a “theft offense” within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(a)(43)(G). However, the court agreed with the parties that a remand to the BIA is nevertheless required. The Attorney General has issued an intervening decision that might impact Petitioner’s request for withholding of removal, and the BIA should have the opportunity to consider the effect of that decision. The court wrote that Petitioner was sentenced to less than five years in prison. His aggravated felony conviction, therefore, does not per se constitute a particularly serious crime with respect to withholding of removal. View "Mucktaru Kemokai v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Defendant filed an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400), on which she certified under penalty of perjury that she had never “committed a crime or offense for which she was NOT arrested.” Defendant was charged in 2012 with healthcare fraud and conspiracy crimes. In 2012, Lopez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. In 2021, the United States filed a complaint in the district court to revoke Defendant’s naturalization. The complaint alleged   had illegally procured her naturalization on the ground that she had failed to meet the requirement of “good moral character.” The government moved for judgment on the pleadings on the ground that Defendant had illegally procured her naturalization because she had committed a crime of moral turpitude during the statutory period. The district court granted that motion. It concluded that the conspiracy crime to which Defendant pleaded guilty overlapped with the statutory “good moral character.”   The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The court explained that structuring a transaction to avoid a reporting requirement, as defined by 18 U.S.C. section 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii), is also not a crime categorically involving moral turpitude. The offense does not necessarily involve fraud. And, although the crime arguably involves deceit, it does not necessarily involve an activity that is “inherently base, vile, or depraved.” Thus, the court held that a violation of section 1956(a)(1)(B) is not categorically a crime of moral turpitude. View "USA v. Lisette Lopez" on Justia Law

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During removal proceedings, Petitioner wrote to the Board of Immigration Appeals asking to withdraw his appeal of an immigration judge’s decision and to be deported. The Board granted his withdrawal request. He now asserts that the federal laws governing derivative citizenship are unconstitutional and seeks a declaration that he is a U.S. citizen as a judicial remedy.   The Eleventh Circuit denied his appeal. The court concluded that although it has jurisdiction to determine whether the Board erroneously withdrew Petitioner’s appeal, he does not argue the Board did. Further, the court explained that Petitioner also forfeited judicial review of his claims by withdrawing his appeal and asking to be deported. The court explained that Petitioner also moved to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on the ground that there are “genuine issue[s] of material fact” about his claim that former 8 U.S.C. Section 1432(a) unconstitutionally discriminates based on gender and race. However, the court reasoned that because it concluded that Petitioner forfeited any right to judicial review of that claim, there is no genuine issue of material fact that requires the court to transfer this case to the district court. View "Franco P. Clement v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a petition to have her husband classified as her immediate relative so that he would be eligible to adjust his immigration status. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security approved the petition but later revoked that approval because Plaintiff’s husband had entered a previous marriage for the purpose of evading immigration laws. Plaintiff sought judicial review of the Secretary’s marriage-fraud determination. The district court dismissed her complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction because it determined that Plaintiff’s complaint challenged a discretionary decision.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment in favor of the Secretary and Director. The court explained that Plaintiff asserted that the Secretary reached the wrong outcome when he determined that there was good and sufficient cause to revoke the approval of her petition. The court wrote that the agency has articulated a standard to guide its evaluation of whether good and sufficient cause exists. But the court explained it cannot review Plaintiff’s complaint that the Secretary reached the wrong conclusion in her case. The sole statutory predicate for revocation is that the Secretary deem that there is good and sufficient cause. That the Secretary has, in his discretion, created additional standards to explain what constitutes good and sufficient cause and linked that determination in Plaintiff’s case to the marriage-fraud provision does not alter the bar on judicial review of the Secretary’s discretionary decision. View "Amina Bouarfa v. Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, et al" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Peru, appeals the Board of Immigration Appeals’ determination that she is ineligible for relief under 8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(b)(2), a provision whose language was originally adopted as part of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and that outlines the conditions under which certain “battered spouses or children” qualify for discretionary cancellation of removal. As relevant here, it requires a petitioning alien to show that she “has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty” by her spouse or parent. Petitioner contends that the Immigration Judge and the BIA made two errors in refusing her cancellation request. First, she maintains that, as a matter of law, they misinterpreted the statutory term “extreme cruelty” to require proof of physical—as distinguished from mental or emotional—abuse. And second, she asserts that having misread the law, the IJ and the BIA wrongly concluded that she doesn’t qualify for discretionary relief.   The Eleventh Circuit granted her petition for review and remanded it to the BIA for further consideration. The court explained that it agreed with Petitioner—and held— that the BIA misinterpreted 8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(b)(2). The term “extreme cruelty” does not require a petitioning alien to prove that she suffered physical abuse in order to qualify for discretionary cancellation of removal; proof of mental or emotional abuse is sufficient to satisfy the “extreme cruelty” prong of Section 1229b(b)(2)’s five-prong standard. View "Esmelda Ruiz v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law